Technology Project Planning – Too Much of a Good Thing

I recently had a bit of a debate with a generation representative pal who knows I am massive on content material and detail within project planning and the contracts that guide a technology deal. We observed ourselves speaking approximately that precept of economics known as the regulation of diminishing marginal returns. His factor became that for venture proprietors who’re in the midst of planning new assignment-gathering requirements, fleshing out specifications, polling user options, and so on.-the regulation of diminishing marginal returns sets in lots in advance than they understand. The resources spent all through the initial making plans ranges produce some hefty returns. But soon after, spending the equal amount of resources again, and the following time after that, will produce smaller and smaller chunks of advantage. When you are caught up in a making plans process, it’s far regularly difficult to pick out the factor at which your cost-advantage curve has begun to flatten.

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What my buddy became pronouncing appeared practicable, and due to the fact I did not have any evidence to the contrary, I just generic his theory. Then I thought of a possible outcome of this principle, and I stated, “You’re now not going to go out and begin spreading this thought around the technology community, are you?”

Threatened evangelist

My fear became this. Here changed into me, this evangelist of content material and element, and across the table was a fellow who could undermine the past and future progress of my task by means of telling folks they really need much less planning and crucial thinking for his or her era projects and not extra. Project owners’ planning and wondering are, in any case, what generates the content material and element I crave and have come to appreciate.

Well, we talked some more, and my buddy brought some explanation. As it seems, he turned into suggesting particularly that venture owners not waste time and money making plans what cannot be deliberate efficiently at a selected factor in time. Made feel. I was nevertheless squirming, however now a chunk relieved.

Obvious example

You have determined to apply a staged or iterative technique on your subsequent venture. You will buy some Off-The-Shelf software and customize it a truthful amount. Phase 1 may contain extending a discrete element of existing capability and then wiring as much as a live database for some testing.

In this situation, there is actually no point to questioning through the info of Phases 2 through 5 or estimating costs inside the one’s levels, besides in either case at a very excessive degree, due to the fact: 1) unless Phase 1 is finished easily and with an acceptable value, you’ll by no means get to the following phases; and a couple of) you haven’t yet tested your assumptions approximately costing within Phase 1. Indeed, you probably selected an iterative approach for this project because of your incapacity to plan your mission effectively from start to complete.

Less apparent examples

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My buddy and I talked a few more, and we moved past the obvious examples, the ones which might be smooth to accept. My natural reaction turned into to face up to any further extension of this idea due to the fact I knew he would be cutting closer and in the direction of the bone, threatening the very foundation of my evangelist mission. However, sitting earlier than I became a vivid character and a clear thinker, with nearly two many years of experience with technology. I needed to concentrate (nervously). “When the student is prepared to study, the teacher will appear.”

Requirements gathering – A suitable issue, no doubt, and something the professionals have been encouraging us to do greater of during the last ten years. “Insufficient necessities development mentioned as leading purpose of venture failure.” When it comes to necessities, we have been led to agree with that extra isn’t enough. Surely there’s a factor at which extra requirements aren’t useful (and might even be destructive), but the specialists have now not told us the way to decide just whilst we’ve got grew to become the nook.


As a great deal as I resisted the float of this dialogue with my friend, I should admit that what he was pronouncing made perfect feel to me. But now I needed to discover a few way to reconcile two divergent principles: on the only hand, my lengthy-held perception that more project making plans and essential wondering need to always be one’s aspiration, and on the alternative, my cognizance which you clearly can have too much of an amazing element.

Ultimately, I found the reconciliation I wanted with simply one insight. It occurred to me that, with all the audio system and literature available telling us to engage in more pleasant practices for our era projects and more frequently, we have become conditioned to agree with that extra is not the enough-in truth, due to the nature of the beast, extra can never be sufficient. We have been doing increasingly more, and the incremental enhancements we’ve witnessed, together with the brand new articles we examine, encourage us to maintain doing an increasing number of. Of path, our purpose is good, however, while are we able to stop doing more? When ought to we stop doing more?

It’s all relative

I suppose it all boils all the way down to relativity-your relative sophistication as a generation buyer and the relative nature of your precise challenge. If you began heeding the professionals’ advice a few years ago, your technique to shopping for technology can be pretty state-of-the-art via now. You can be doing the appropriate degree of making plans to your tasks, and maybe you now and again do an excessive amount of. Other businesses are simply now opening their eyes to a better manner, possibly triggered via a current tricky challenge.

Second, whilst enough is enough relies upon for your precise challenge. Your aim is to plan successfully and carefully for all factors of your undertaking, however, be mindful that your gift need or capability to plot sure elements might not yet exist. Further, even when you have the prevailing want and capacity to plot a sure issue of your venture, do no longer overdo it. For example, do not hold to add more and more necessities on your requirements basket as though quantity had been your simplest goal.

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On this ultimate point, remind yourself that requirements, specifications, user preferences, and each other object for your project-planning listing have at least one issue is not unusual. Once you have a notion of them and cemented them into some spreadsheet, they have a manner of placing round all through your planning manner, and frequently thru of the entirety of your undertaking. Instead of ready to whack some of these hangers-on closer to the end of a section or on the give up of your project (“backward creep” of scope or deliverables), attempt to prioritize them at an early stage of your task. You will now not even open Requirements Container 2 till the excessive-priority requirements in Container 1 have been exhausted (happy or intentionally discarded). A prioritization technique should prevent time, dollars and other resources.

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About the Author: Kathryn J. Riddell